Juxtaposition July – some extremes in reading… a wrap-up

Juxtaposition July 01 by Casey Carlisle

Can the world just back to normal please…

I was determined to get back on track with that goal-getting after an abysmal second quarter due to the virus-that-will-not-be-named and lockdowns. Starting the month of July with all the best intentions was soon waylaid with an unseasonal change in the weather that brought out a lot of Australian natives to flower in the bushland surrounding where I live. Bring on thumping headaches, scratchy voice, watery eyes, and a heavy dose of feeling sorry for myself. Given that I wasn’t feeling too flash, I thought I’d get a lot of reading done because that is my comfort space – curled up on the couch with a warm cuppa and a good book.

What eventuated was my best writing month so far for 2020, and my worst for reading…

I grappled with the headaches and blurry vision, along with two of the novels being more intense, or difficult to read, contributing to the low reading count. (Not to mention constantly falling asleep from antihistamines making me drowsy.) But I’m not mad at it. You need to roll with the punches and adapt. My writing was coming to a stall in May and June. Even though I was getting a word count in, when reviewing my drafts, it was missing the tone from the first five chapters. So rather than flog a dead horse, I made the decision to put it aside for a moment and work on something else – nothing worse than letting frustration colour your mood in a creative endeavor. My strategy worked. Even though I lost a week of work with family visiting (yay, I love catching up with the fam,) and a little more than another week with hay fever symptoms (at-choo, sniffle, sniffle,) in the remaining week and a bit I managed to pen out three chapters on a novel in development.

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That’s really all that I’ve been able to accomplish this month. Though we are not on tight lockdowns, the state is still closed to half of the continent. I have friends in Victoria restricted to their homes. We’ve seen a few cases of Covid-19 pop up locally. People getting arrested and jailed/fined for shirking border crossing restrictions. Teens throwing parties with more than 10 people have seen attendee fined up to $26,000 each. And nightclubs are being closed because no-one is obeying the 1.5 metre social distancing rule. It’s disappointing really, a few people I know have passed away from complications after contracting the virus. It just takes a little common sense and precaution to help us get past this and let things get back to normal. My flat-mate has only just been able to get back to work after 6 months where he was unable to earn an income. We are lucky, but there are so many of my friends who are still trying to secure full time employment and are in fear of losing their houses from defaulting on homeloans. But despite all of the pressure, most everyone remains optimistic. We are all here to help each other get through this.

The highlight of July has to be getting to play Canasta with my family… I know that sounds lame, but it’s an activity we enjoy because we get to sit around the dining room table on the balcony, take in the view of the coast, the ocean, soft breezes with a glass of bubbly, and cackle as we catch up on life. It’s about connecting with each other, spending time together rather than the card game. We used to do it over the Christmas holidays when I was a kid, so it invokes those memories as well. Feeling free and visiting new and exciting places as we caravanned around Australia.

Back to my reading: I really enjoyed ‘The Princess and the Fangirl,’ and ‘Wayward Son,’ though ‘Too Late’ was hard to digest. It dealt with themes of abuse, rape, drug dealing, and explicit sex scenes… a bit confronting and not the usual fare form Colleen Hoover. Plus I started reading Magda Szubanski’s memoir ‘Reckoning’ which deals with her family immigrating from Poland (via England) after surviving the war… the writing is beautiful, but it also deals with heavy topics that I need to let sit before I can read on. It’s not a book you can plough through. But I love the historical elements. I’m currently half way through and hope to complete in in August. So, those last two novels really slowed down my reading productivity. (Reviews for all the books I’ve read to come in the next month or so.)

I’m crossing my fingers that the hay fever won’t persist as bad as it was, because there is a pile of really exciting novels waiting on my coffee table, and the progress I’ve made with me writing has me amped up the keep on firing. So that slight change in direction has got me motivated and celebrating a great witting month. I hope to improve on the numbers in August! Bring it On!

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Oh, and I had to share this puppy dog cuteness – because abovementioned flat-mate has returned to work after so long, my furbabies waited patiently at the door during that first day, snuggled like bunnies, because they missed him. And they are adorable. I needed to distract them with lots of hugs and playing chasey around the house. I wonder how crazy the neighbours think I am, because all they would see through the windows in me running back and forth, waving my arms in the air, screaming and laughing all by myself.

 

How are you handling the impact of Covid-19? What roadblocks have you overcome recently to better your reading or writing goals?

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ageism and Fear in the Jobscape and why writing saved my life

Ageism and Fear in the Jobscapr Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

It’s been a minute since I’ve written anything about writerly advice because I’ve been taking time to, well, write. But I thought I’d share how I created my own job, and the circumstances that led me to it. Maybe you can create your dream job too.

Having difficulty gaining employment once you reach a certain age isn’t a new story. I never really had to face this issue until I moved from the city to a small regional centre. This combined with the reality that my work experience and qualifications typically exceed that of the employers I’m interviewing with… and well, for whatever reason, I did not land a new position. But it is a little my fault because instead of applying for high stress, high responsibility vacancies, I choose to wind down and enjoy the coastal lifestyle – so targeting a less demanding position was key.

I was cited many reasons for the lack of success at the interview stage. I was too over-qualified, they were afraid I would get bored, or I was met with silent wide-eyed blinking when they perused my resume at job interviews. And typically, the jobs going to a more suitable applicant usually meant someone in their early 20’s with little education and experience. I know this because I followed up on every job I applied for out of professionalism and courtesy.

Stock Traders Conducting Interview

There is no sour grapes here. Just a little dumbfounded. I never had any complications gaining employment in metropolitan areas, but country regions have proven fruitless. It’s a smaller market and much less resources. And I hesitate to mention that there was on average 100-150 applicants for each vacancy.

I even went as far as explaining that I knew exactly what the positions I was applying for entailed. The kinds of positions that suited my lifestyle. I have a lot going on outside of a job (like writing, volunteering for marine conservation efforts, and exploring the area). And though I will dedicate 110% of my effort and commitment, when the day ends I like to leave work at the office, and enjoy my personal time with other endeavors. I’m not out to climb corporate ladders or build an empire. I want work satisfaction in a great environment and an income help me earn enough money for holidays, living, and retirement. I’ve already done the hard yards. I own my home and cars. My experience and qualifications should not be seen as intimidating or being over-qualified; but as a value add. An in-house all-rounder at your disposal whenever you need it.

So I was flummoxed to say the least.

My only alternative was an hour and a half commute to the city, to start my own business… or turn a passionate hobby into a new career. Determination and perseverance, and a little outside the box thinking has taken me to a place where I can breathe a sigh of relief. Otherwise it would have been selling up and moving back to the city (along with a substantial financial loss). But I have an emotional attachment to where I am currently located, so moving was a last resort.

I had already been writing in my free time. And when the idea to chase this pastime on a full-time basis struck, I thought – easy! I’ll just finish writing novels faster and send them out to publishers. Raking in the dough.

What a deluded creature I was.

Ageism and Fear in the Jobscapr Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Turning writing into a fulltime career meant diversifying the types of writing I was doing; and diversifying my skills.

Online marketing, website building, photography, and a foray into post-production of images, formatting, mastering algorithms, networking, professional development… and the list goes on! It turns out I’m not writing much more than I was when working full time, it’s just the remainder of my working week is taken up by all the bits and pieces involved in submitting and applying for work, and the industry as a whole.

So inadvertently, the jobscape in a small regional town has actually pushed me into creating my dream job through necessity. I don’t think I’ve ever had this amount of job satisfaction either. It’s interesting and diverse. I can pretty much choose my own hours, work remotely and travel if I wish.

Ageism and Fear in the Jobscapr Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

I will say it was challenging to get started. There is no roadmap for this kind of thing. It’s all about building a portfolio, making industry contacts, and bidding for jobs. There are so many niches within the corporate, marketing, and technical sectors as well. You really need to research and investigate where there is a need for your services. My dreams of putting my feet up with a coffee and churning out the next best YA hit of the season is still there, but I’ve padded it out with screenwriting, speech writing, technical writing, ghost writing, proof reading and editing, and providing content for customers maintaining a website or social media platform. Heck I’ve even had work published for local news outlets.

I think exploring these other modalities has enriched my interest and skills as a writer. I love it.

Casey Carlisle at work 02My success feels like a bit of a ‘up yours’ to those employers who labelled me as too old, or felt intimidated to employ because of my qualifications and experience. They failed to see the passionate person in front of them. But those judgements say nothing about me and everything about them… so I just adapt. Innovate. Overcome.

Write on fellow wordsmiths!

 

 

 

What obstacles have you had to overcome to realise your career as a writer? I’d love to hear your stories… even if you’re only just starting on the journey.

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

Secret Recipe

Tales of a Temp were never so tasty…

Secret recipie Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

I got kicked out of boarding school – but I won’t go into that story (maybe in another blog, it’s a comedic tale of rebellion). But that forced the issue that if I wanted to attend school in my home town, I’d have to pay for the fees, textbooks and everything else myself. That was my punishment. Enforced by my Father/Overlord. Otherwise I’d be shipped back to the cold halls filled with Nun’s wearing scowls and habits that smelled of mothballs. So I needed a job.

My rescue came in the form of a popular fast food chain restaurant. It was fairly new to our town at the time, and employed younger workers that could accommodate evening and weekend shifts. It took me a single day to find the job and get my first roster from what would be my third ever employer. I don’t think my father thought I was capable, that I’d cave in to his will and get sent back to his expensive boarding school with a tail between my legs. Well, I showed him! Watching his eyes bug out and veins pulsing along his forehead and neck, I informed him I had enrolled in the local (and Public) High School having fulfilled my required employment. I missed my friends, my home and was happy to never see the Nun run dorm rooms ever again.

Secret recipie Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleUnlike the institutionalised education I’d been surreptitiously ejected from, I became fast (food) friends with my blue-collar worker types. No snobs here… it’s hard to be stuck up when you’re covered in a thick layer of cooking fat and have mayonnaise stains in unfortunate places. Swapping pinstriped blue and grey uniforms for maroon polo shirts and tan pants, I bonded with my new mates facing similar dilemmas – needing money… from hard yakka. Plus, I was loving the new independence my own greenbacks afforded me.

I suffered through coming home smelling like grease, rude customers, hairnets, and a couple of occasions soaring into the air as I slipped on an oily floor. I don’t fall gracefully, I look like Bambi jumping on a trampoline: all flailing limbs and unco-ordination. All for the benefits of staying home and my own money. Another was left overs… my brother was my best friend. I’m sure he grew an entire foot over the year with all the extra food he kept sneaking out of the fridge.

Secret recipie Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleIt was a pretty cushy job, because of my big smile and eloquent diction, I was always placed on drive through. And I enjoyed it until someone did a grab and dash. But funny how you know everyone in a small town. Needless to say the culprits were caught on CCVTV and quickly tracked down.

Christmas brought a staff party, where three girls sung carols in beautiful harmony, affectionately dubbed the ‘Pointer Sisters’ (because they were aboriginal – I know – I shudder at small town mentality).

So by halfway through the year I had cracked my secret recipe to happiness: paid my tuition, bought my first car, expanded my wardrobe and had a social life. Even though the food may have had secret herbs and spices, it was the greens in my bank account I was more thankful for. Even though I’d been in the workforce before, this was the first job to make me feel like a grown up.

Tales of a Temp by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tips for being a stand out Job Applicant… by Casey Carlisle

Don’t follow the crowd – success in job applications relies on much more than sending in a Resume.

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I was having an informal chat yesterday with some friends, and we got on to the topic of finding work, as all of us had started a new job in the past 12 months. Comparing our experiences and admitting on how much harder it was to gain employment than it was a number of years ago and the added pressure of the inflated cost of living highlight what a different climate we live in.

I have to concur, I count my pennies a lot closer today than I used to. There isn’t that much disposable income in my household any more.

But while looking for work, it’s no longer enough just to troll the job boards and send in your resume. Employers are getting 350 to 500 applicants for vacancies today*. So you need to do a lot in order to stand out. Unfortunately it may not have a lot to do with your experience. It comes to using concise language, bullet points, and easy to read layout for your CV – and a killer Cover Letter!

Then, once you have their attention, they’ll look at your skills and experience.

It’s similar to Ballroom dancing competitions; you do all this training to perfect your routine… but that means little if the judges don’t see you. So dressing it up in a sparkly, sexy outfit; stunning hair and make-up to mesmerise the adjudicators is a must. Then while you are busting out the moves on the dance floor, you’re competing with many other couples. The dance track will go, on average for 1-3 minutes; and in that time a judge will watch you for maybe 5 seconds. So you need to make those five seconds count!

So, like a dancing competition, don’t dismiss the window dressing. It’s survival. Do what you can to make your application stand out and present your best qualities clearly. Employers and Recruiting Agencies have a limited amount of time to fill vacancies, and most will only glance at your resume before binning it.

On your job search don’t be afraid to use contacts, show your Cover Letter and Resume to friends, or better still, pop into a Recruiting Agency and ask a Consultant for their opinion. It’s free and they could shed some light on valuable tips to have you stepping into your dream job sooner rather than later.

Many job boards will integrate with Social Networking sites, so use people you know to help you find work. Set up an online profile for employers to check out. Make it impressive – add pictures, media clips, copies of certificates. In today’s age of connectivity, use what’s at your disposal. You can even network with professionals online to boost your reach and credibility.

Remember to put all your skills in your CV or profile. You’re more than your qualifications. What life experiences do you have? What are your dreams & hobbies? Employees want people with passion to join their team. Ask friends to help build your lists, they can be much more objective and identify aspects you overlook.

When you’ve done as much as you can, applied for the jobs you want – be prepared. If they call, many will be conducting a telephone interview as soon as you say ‘Hello?’ So keep notes on the job you applied for handy. Print out a copy of your Resume and Cover Letter so you can refer to it in a glance. The last thing you want to do is stammer through a phone conversation when being put on the spot.

I hope these points will help you – they definitely made the process much easier for me. And don’t forget…

You are outstanding! Be bold and ask for what you want.

*actual figure from feedback of 50+ employers and recruiting agencies in Victoria for the month of February 2014.

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You’re smarter than you think…. by Casey Carlisle

Image When I moved to Melbourne for work, meeting a plethora of new friends, I had to endure that ‘getting-to-know-all-about-you’ stage again. I’d been cloistered away within the same safe group of friends for nearly ten years, so doing the ‘sell yourself’ thing to prospective employers and new connections was a little daunting. But one comment from my new friends stuck out at me – ‘You’ve done all that?’ It got me critiquing my CV wondering if it was all that unusual.

What I found, (although I may be a little ADD) realistically, I’d included all of my extracurricular activities. How many of us multi-task a number of careers or hobbies? You have interests outside of work, or sport, right? These are your forgotten secret skills! It is like checking through all the jacket pockets in your wardrobe and discovering some overlooked cash.

I’ve invested as much passion, if not more in each of these activities, and once achieving some sort of benchmark, I’d move on to another challenge.

Many of us switch career paths completely, or have more than one thing going on in our lives, create multiple streams of income, satisfy our creative urges, continuing at a mundane job to pay the bills. Everything is relative, everything is a feather to stick in your cap.

Forget about that shoulder-padded blazer you wear to work, what about the sloppy-joe you wear coaching, or the overalls you don when renovating the elusive ‘junk room?’ Are you the go-to person for any IT issues in the family? Do you like to read up on topics you may have overheard to satiate your curiosity or review the latest flick on a blog? It may be time to amalgamate your wardrobe and give all your skills equal standing, you’ll soon discover that you are far more interesting than you think!

So my answer to their wide-eyed wonder at the stories of my past is… ‘Yes! And I’m sure if you really think about it you have accomplished just as much too.’

Turn your passions into inspiration.

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.